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Xi Shu (喜树)

Chinese. Literally, ‘Love Tree’. Common name for a deciduous tree, with the botanical designation Camptotheca acuminata, which is native to southern China. The tree contains the alkaloid camptothecin, of which chemical derivatives are used pharmaceutically in cancer treatment. Hence, the tree is nicknamed Cancer Tree and Tree of Life. Besides this, it is in English also referred to as Happy Tree, a term that derives from the Chinese name, of which the character xi (喜), can also be translated as ‘a joyful thing’, ‘to enjoy’ and ‘to like’. The tree grows up to around 20 meters, has ovate leaves, that are glossy, dark green above and pale green below, and its elongated seeds are arranged in globular clusters at the end of drooping branches, usually in groups of up to about three clusters per branch.